WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - Wembley awaits as Coventry City chase Premier League dream - The Coventry Observer

WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - Wembley awaits as Coventry City chase Premier League dream

Coventry Editorial 26th May, 2023   0

PREMIER League football has not graced the city of Coventry for more than two decades.

This weekend the Sky Blues are involved in their biggest game since relegation from the top flight at the end of the 2000/01 season.

Promotion to the Premier League is just 90 minutes away.

This year’s Championship play-off final is one for the romantics as two teams, both promoted out of League Two as recently as 2017/18, collide for a place in England’s top division.

Few would have predicted Mark Robins’ Coventry side as one of the Championship’s promotion candidates at the start of a campaign that saw City fail to win any of their first eight league matches.

A remarkable rise up the table has left Coventry one game from a dream return to the Premier League.




PREDICTED LINE-UP

City boss Robins has some tough decisions to make.

Robins could simply start the same XI that took Coventry to Wembley with a hugely impressive 1-0 win against Middlesbrough in the second leg of their play-off semi-final.


The return of Ben Sheaf and Jamie Allen to City’s midfield at The Riverside seemed to give the Sky Blues an edge to their attacking play that was lacking in a cagey first leg.

Consecutive clean sheets will mean any change in defence is unlikely whilst captain Liam Kelly and match-winner Gustavo Hamer will almost certainly start if fit.

Viktor Gyokeres will likely lead the line on his own with Matty Godden to be deployed from the bench.

Predicted line-up: Wilson, McNally, McFadzean, Doyle, Norton-Cuffy, Kelly, Sheaf, Bidwell, Hamer, Allen, Gyokeres.

THE OPPOSITION

Luton Town have enjoyed another stellar season.

The Hatters finished third in the league despite losing manager Nathan Jones to Southampton as replacement Rob Edwards guided the club to a second successive top-six finish following his appointment in November.

And Luton overcame a first leg deficit to beat Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate in their play-off semi-final.

Top scorer Carlton Morris has 20 goals to his name whilst Elijah Adebayo has netted 10 times.

In comparison, City’s top scorer Gyokeres scored 21 goals.

The Hatters also boasted the third meanest defence in the Championship as on-loan goalkeeper Ethan Horvath recorded 19 clean sheets, just one less than Sky Blues stopper and Golden Glove winner Ben Wilson.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The two teams could not be separated in this season’s league meetings.

Coventry picked up just their second point of the season in a 2-2 draw at Kenilworth Road back in September.

Morris netted a brace for the Hatters whilst Gyokeres and Hamer twice drew Coventry level.

And City came from behind to draw 1-1 at the Coventry Building Society Arena in February as Tom Lockyer’s first-minute opener was cancelled out by Godden’s penalty.

In fact, the Sky Blues have failed to beat Luton in any of the last nine meetings between the two teams.

That run dates back to 2017, the same season both clubs achieved promotion out of League Two.

Historically, City have won 41 meetings compared to Luton’s 29 whilst 19 matches have been drawn.

THE REWARDS

The Championship play-off final is often dubbed ‘the richest game in football’.

Promotion to the Premier League could be worth at least £140million to Coventry.

The Sky Blues have sold out their 36,237 ticket allocation as City make their third trip to Wembley in the last seven seasons.

On their two most recent visits to Wembley, Coventry beat Oxford United 2-1 in the EFL Trophy in 2016/17 before City overcame Exeter City 3-1 in the League Two play-off final the following season.

A season which saw the club bottom of the table in October culminates in a winner takes all finale at the home of footballl.

The play-off final takes place on Saturday, May 27 with kick-off at 4.45pm at Wembley Stadium.

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